World War 1
The first world war was caused by fallout from the assassination in 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife.
The first world war was fought between two groups of European powers. On one side were the British, French, and Russian empires, known as the Allied Powers, and on the other side were the German and Austro-Hungarian empires, known as the Central Powers. Japan and the USA later joined the Allied Powers, and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) joined the Central Powers.
As a dominion of the British Empire, New Zealand had automatically joined the war, but we still had the ability to independently make decisions about how we’d contribute towards the war effort. Britain declared war with Germany on 4 August 1914, and news reached the New Zealand public on 5 August. Conscription was initially voluntary, and within the first week of the war being announced 14,000 had signed up.
New Zealand’s first task during WWI involved sending 1374 troops to German Samoa, at the request of the British government, to take over and maintain control of German territories in the Pacific.
The New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) was quickly assembled and provided with basic training in New Zealand before being sent to Egypt. The first contingent of 8454 soldiers, as well as 3000 horses, left Wellington onboard 10 troopships on 16 October 1914. They joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on the way, with whom they travelled to Egypt in convoy. They arrived in Egypt on 3 December 1914, and troops received further training before being sent to the front line in Gallipoli. New Zealand experienced its first combat of the war in Egypt when they helped defend the Suez Canal from Ottoman (Turkish) troops.
On 25 April 1914, New Zealand and Australian troops arrive in Gallipoli, and this is where our military efforts were focused during the remainder of 1914 and most of 1915. In 1915 New Zealand sent troops to fight other battles in the Mediterranean, and in 1916 New Zealand troops were sent to fight in Sinai and Palestine, as well as France and Belgium.
Learn more about the principal WWI operations and battles that New Zealand troops were involved in.
On 31 October 1918, with their armies defeated and their German ally on the verge of collapse, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) seeks and received an armistice with the Allied Forces. The war finally ended at 11am on 11 November 1918 with the signing of an armistice treaty between Germany and the Allied Powers, called the Treaty of Versailles.